Horse breeds in Australia

Horses have long played an important part of history – indeed humans from all levels of society owe them a great debt.  Because of their long history, the breeding of horses over centuries has been well documented, and although there are hundreds of different breeds they are classed into four general types:

  • Hot bloods (e.g. Arab and Thoroughbred)
  • Warm bloods (carriage and sport horses)
  • Cold bloods (draft horses such as Clydesdales)
  • Ponies (e.g. Shetland and Welsh Mountain Pony)

These categories refer to the temperament and build of the horse rather than anything to do with the actual temperature of the horse’s blood. 

Hot-blooded horses, such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds tend to be more quick-witted and possess great speed across the ground. Coldblooded horses tend to be of a more even, quiet temperament and are generally bigger built in stature and therefore not able to achieve speeds similar to a Thoroughbred.

Here are some of the common breeds found in Australia:

The Thoroughbred

The glamour horse breed, the Thoroughbred is most commonly used as a racehorse. With long legs, powerful hindquarters and strong, sloping shoulders, they are strong and fast. While known for their stamina, courage and spirited nature, these valuable horses need expert handling and training even if they are retired from the track.

The Arabian

One of the most recognisable horses because of their distinctive head and tail, the Arabian is an elegant horse usually used for riding, showing and equestrian events. They are known for their stamina, gentleness, intelligence and endurance. 

The Standardbred

This breed is best known for its use in harness racing. They generally have a calmer temperament compared to Thoroughbreds and have a sturdy, athletic conformation. They are a versatile breed, that once retired, can be used as pleasure horses in riding, dressage or endurance work.

The Clydesdale

This sturdy, stable intelligent horse is a beautiful breed and the most recognisable of all the workhorses. Bred to pull wagons, carts and other heavy loads, they are exceptionally strong.  They have a pleasant disposition and are calm to work with. 

The Shetland Pony

This charming equine breed is recognisable because of their tiny stature but are strong for their size and frequently used for riding for children, and can also be harnessed to small wagons. They are intelligent horses and respond well to good handling.